Lucy: I got a popcorn ball! Kid: I got a

Lucy: I got a popcorn ball!
Kid: I got a fudge bar!
Another Kid: I got a pack of gum!
Charlie Brown: I got a rock.

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I Got A Rock

I Got A Rock

I was standing in Walmart over the weekend and I was struck by the fact that each end of the store reminded me that this year is almost over.  When I first walked into the store I was met by aisles and aisles of Halloween candy, costumes and decorations.  On the opposite end of the store the garden center is now fully stocked with everything I could possibly want in terms of Christmas decorations and in between it all were all the pots, pans and table settings one could use for Thanksgiving.  The remainder of 2013 was laid out between the doors of the store.  As the holidays come upon us so quickly, I am concerned that many of us will end up like Charlie Brown at Halloween and open our bags to find a bunch of rocks.  So before we get too far into the holiday season I want to offer some ideas about how to help you have a stress free rest of 2013.

1)  Its About The Memories – We all love to get things.  I know I do, but at the end of the day 90% of everything you will end up getting will be forgotten within  a couple of months.   There are exceptions to that, like if you get engaged, but for the most part the “things” will fade away.  So this year instead of worrying about things, the most important thing you can do is to help create memories.  My children are all adults now, but they have very clear memories of the holidays from Halloween to Christmas, not because of what they got, but because of the traditions we created as a family.  For instance, my parents live in a retirement community.  When my kids were small there were the ONLY trick or treaters that came around, so they got pretty spoiled.  The great thing was not only do my kids have great memories of that, but it brought such joy to the residents in the community who became surrogate grandparents to them.   Remember…it’s about the memories.

2) Its OK To Say No – I know that society tells us that we should be able to do it all.  But the reality is you can only do so much.  So as the invitations pile up and the opportunities present themselves, it is ok to say no to some of the things going on.  I spoke to a friend recently who shared that on an upcoming weekend night they had been invited to 4 different things.  They were pretty stressed on how to make it all work.  Instead of taking that route, take a moment and prioritize the things you are being invited to and decide which ones you can skip.  A good alternative when you are unable to attend an event is to make future plans with the host for a quiet lunch or dinner.  You will have relieved the stress of overbooking yourself and you can look forward to a more intimate get together down the road.  Remember…it’s ok to say no.

3) Do Some Research – I have never been a Black Friday shopper and I have never understood why anyone would want to camp in front of a store for 2 days to get a great price on a “thing”.  Every year the local news does a report about a group of folks who have been waiting in line for a couple of days so they can get a good price on something.  While I am all for a great price, I would ask isn’t it more important to be at home with family on Thanksgiving instead of in front of Best Buy?  Experts say that while there are many great door buster sales, they are often only a handful of them at each store and you can often find great sales from Black Friday on, including online shopping, which is becoming more and more popular.  So do some research, put away your credit card and enjoy the holiday.  There are websites that can keep you up to date on great holiday sales so relax and enjoy the holidays.  Remember – Do your research.

4) Hold onto Balance – One of the first things that go out the window during holiday season is the balance that we have in our lives.  And even if you don’t think you have balance, you most likely will step away from some of the things that give you a semblance of normalcy in your life.  For instance, if you exercise every day, make sure that you keep doing it.  If your normal routine is reading a half hour before bedtime, make sure you continue to do that.  One of the best ways to beat stress is to take care of yourself.   And one of the best ways to take care of yourself is to continue to keep your life in balance.  Remember – Balance.

5) Lastly: Have Fun – Whether you are going to a Halloween party this week or having friends over for Thanksgiving, one of the most important things to do is to have fun doing it.  Too often we get bogged down with all the details and get so wrapped up in the “doing” of it that we don’t have any fun.   I can remember my mother working all day in the kitchen to create the perfect Thanksgiving meal.  I can also remember that she didn’t often sit and enjoy the meal because she was constantly going back and forth between the table and the kitchen to ensure that everyone was having a great time.  And although I know she loved having us all at the house, I am not sure she had much fun.   So Remember – Have Fun!

Expectations about the holidays can often leave us feeling like Charlie Brown in It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  He goes out for candy and he gets a lot of rocks.  I know that it may seem early to be talking about the holidays, but I feel strongly that the best way to approach this stressful time of the year is to take a moment now and make a plan on how best to not be disappointed and have a fun, stress free holiday season.  So don’t get rocks, enjoy each and every moment. Have a great day and don’t forget: Life is a journey, not a destination!